'A tragic day': Shooter kills 4 victims, then himself, at rural Mason Co. home

Mason Co. Sheriff photo

BELFAIR, Wash. - A gunman who killed four people at a home in rural Mason County called an officer he previously encountered to say he shot his family, leading to an hourslong standoff Friday that ended with his suicide, authorities said.

A 12-year-old girl related to the victims survived and was taken to the hospital for an evaluation, Mason County sheriff's Chief Deputy Ryan Spurling said. Her condition was not immediately known.

The officer who took the shooter's call went to the home across Puget Sound from Seattle with another deputy. Authorities negotiated with the man for about three hours before a SWAT team entered the house in a heavily wooded area and found the bodies.

The gunman "apparently came outside the home and shot himself," Sheriff Casey Salisbury said. "It's a terrible tragedy."

Neither the gunman nor his four victims have been identified. Authorities did not detail the previous interaction between the shooter and the officer he called.

"It's extremely tragic. Makes me feel really sad," said neighbor Jody Tief.

"I never dreamed that it would come to anything like this," added neighbor Jack Pigott.

Deputies said they aren't sure when the 4 victims were killed.

Pigott said he remembers hearing gunshots coming from his neighbor's property Thursday night and thought it might have been the man's kids having target practice. There were no indications that something was wrong, he said.

""I was getting a load of wood into the house, and I hear some gunshots," he said. "Four or five, a pause and then another round," Pigott said. "Them people over there. I don't think they hurt a fly. None of them. They were just good people."

The couple who lived in the house were in their 40s and had been married for four or five years, Pigott said. The wife had two teenage sons who were adopted from Russia during a previous marriage. She also had a daughter who was adopted from China.

Pigott said the husband had a heating and air conditioning contractor business. He had recently been hospitalized, but he didn't know why, Pigott said. When he returned home, he was on a lot of medications, Pigott said of the man.

Residents know each other in the area, which has homes with large lots with room for horses, Pigott said.

The SWAT team went in around 12:30 p.m., Spurling said. Officers said they had 11 buildings to clear on the property. The bodies of the 4 victims were found in a chicken coop, deputies said.

The gunman's action have impacted the entire community, including the deputies and first responders, investigators said.

"I think the important part is to recognize those and those officers' families tonight because they have a lot to go through tonight in dealing with this," said Sheriff Salisbury.

A spokesperson for the North Mason School District said one of the kids involved in the tragedy was a student in the district for a few months last year. The child was then homeschooled, the spokesperson said.

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